Imagine you’re driving on the highway and out of the blue, you hear a pop and immediately start losing control of your vehicle. Sounds scary! You may have just experienced a tyre blowout.
We often hear about car incidents involving a tyre blowout or some sort of issue surrounding a vehicle’s tyres. The traffic reports appearing on radio frequently say that a section of a road is closed due to a car accident resulting from a tyre blowout.
So, what exactly is a tyre blowout and how does it occur? We look at how tyre blowouts develop, how it can be avoided and how you can fix it afterwards.
What is a Tyre Blowout?
A tyre blowout is the immediate loss of tyre pressure to the point where the tyre’s structure is incapable of staying in tact, often resulting in the tyre being destroyed. Tyre blowouts can occur anytime when you drive over a pothole, sharp object or anything that can pierce the tyre and cause it to lose pressure immediately.
Don’t confuse a deflation with a blowout, as a deflating tyre can be caused by a slow puncture or cracks in the tyre compound, which happens over a longer period. A blowout is the immediate loss of tyre pressure.
Have Tyre Blowouts Always Been an Issue?
Since the dawn of motoring, tyre quality has always been a concern as it is the only contact point between the car, and all its advanced technology, and the road. The entire car’s technology is transferred through the tyres right to the point of contact, which isn’t even the size of the entire wheel.
The actual contact point is the part of the tyre that touches the ground. This depends on the size of your tyre, but in most cases for the average passenger car, it’s the size of your hand. This means that your entire vehicle is managed on a platform as big as your hands! If the tyre pressure is lost, the tyre’s structure collapses and the wheel can no longer support or drive the car.
So, whenever a driver experiences a tyre blowout, the changes of the person losing control of the vehicle, especially at highway speeds, are great due the sudden loss of pressure and control.
Can Tyre Blowouts be Avoided?
Depending on the type of tyre you have, there are measures you can take to best avoid a tyre blowout. One of the many advancements in tyre technology is the ‘’puncture-proof’’ tyre, a new format of tyre that prevents or provides a quick solution to a puncture while you drive.
Tyres have always consisted of an inflatable tube placed within a harder rubber compound. Deflating the inner tube means the tyre itself was unable to stay intact. The higher pressure your tyres are pumped, the harder your tyre is. This has always been the method since air is needed to be stored within the tyre. Earlier technologies were not advanced enough to work without an inner tube housing the air.
What makes modern tyres amazing in the tyre itself is the tyre tube, which sits tightly against the rim so that air pressure cannot escape. Rims were also updated and now features a neat lip around the rim that the tyre can push against, meaning it will not simply roll off the rim. The need for inner tubes declined as many manufacturers opted for this technology.
Then came the amazing puncture-proof or run-flat tyre technology. Using an air-pressure monitor and self-sealing technology, puncture-proof or run-flat tyres enables drivers to continue driving for a set distance while the car monitors and manages the tyre pressure for you, meaning you can drive closer to your nearest tyre fitment centre and get the damaged tyre fixed or replaced.
Other technologies, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Automated Brake Assist (ABS) helps you manage tyre blowouts better as this technology ensures the driver doesn’t lose control after the tyre experiences a sudden loss of pressure.
What You can do to Prevent a Tyre Blowout
Keep an eye on your tyre pressure by checking the tyres each time you refill on fuel or think you might be low on pressure. In some cases, you will be able to visibly see a deflated tyre as it will look like it’s collapsing under the weight of the car. But rather be safe and check or have them checked regularly.
Ensure your tyre tread and wear remains consistent. Tyre treads are the weaves and grooves in your tyre which grips and distributes water away from the point of contact. If your wheel balance is out, your tyre tread’s wear will also be inconsistent. If so, have your tyres checked by a professional auto fitment centre like Supa Quick.
On the topic of wheel balance, having your car’s wheels aligned is vitally important for tyre wear, fuel consumption and overall drivability. If your steering wheel starts shuddering at higher speeds, you can be certain that your wheel balance and alignment is off. Pop into your nearest tyre fitment centre and have it seen to as soon as possible.
What Should I do During a Tyre Blowout?
Experiencing a tyre blowout can be traumatic as it often occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. To better equip yourself for the event of a tyre blowout, you can attend one of the many advanced driving courses such as the ones offered by the BMW Driving Experience, Mercedes-Benz AMG Driving Academy, and the VW Driving Academy. This will teach you how to better handle a car and might be the difference between maintaining control, and losing it.
If you experience a tyre blowout, it’s best to do the following:
- Ensure you remain calm and keep both hands on the steering wheel.
- Put your hazard lights on to warn other drivers.
- Bring your car to a halt by slowly and firmly applying your brakes.
- Once halted, ensure you put your car in park or pull up the handbrake.
- Place the hazard triangle, which is located inside the boot, behind the vehicle.
- Contact the relevant emergency services or insurance agent.
Run-flat Tyres are Great, but will Tyre Blowouts Ever End?
As amazing as run-flat technology is, it does not guarantee the prevention of tyre blowouts. Tyre manufacturers like Bridgestone, Michelin and Dunlop are working on advanced tyre technology that aims to cease the need for using air pressure all together. These tyres are designed using highly durable compounds moulded into rigid shapes and patterns to keep the essential structure of the wheel intact.
The technology looks at building what is considered a honeycomb structure, known for being structurally durable yet flexible enough to manage bumps without folding or collapsing. The Bridgestone Airless concept uses a thermoplastic resin and inner structure that is strong enough to hold the full weight of a car.
The future of tyre technology and tyre safety is rapidly evolving with many fascinating solutions coming to light. While the technology is still developing, you should be ensuring your safety by implementing these tyre blowout precaution measures.
Stay safe out there! Let a Supa Quick expert near you help ensure your tyres are in good condition for the road.
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